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London Dining App Velocity Acquires US Payments Start-Up Cover, Gets Ready For New York Launch

velocityVelocity founders Zia Yusuf, an ex-Goldman Sachs Executive Director and LSE alumni, and Alex Macdonald, a Turnaround specialist with restaurant management experience and a penchant for Jamon Iberico, are helping to create the ultimate in frictionless dining experiences on both sides of the Atlantic by allowing diners at top restaurants to view itemised bills in real time using their smartphones.

The app will also help restaurants to increase diner’s spend per head by an estimated 14%, and save venues up to 80 man hours per month thanks to the increased efficiency of letting diners pay via mobile as soon as they are ready. Additionally, restaurants are able to compile invaluable information about diner’s habits and preferences, using big data style analytics to turn their POS systems into a CRM tool.

Velocity, who raised $12m in funding back in June from an international group of business angels including former Thomson-Reuters CEO and Chair of Morgan Stanley’s Tech committee Tom Glocer and Initial Capital partner Shukri Shammas, announced a further $4m raise last week led by Lars Christensen, CEO of Saxobank and a co-owner of a 2 Michelin starred restaurant in Copenhagen, Geranium, as well as the acquisition of US based mobile payments start-up Cover.

Cover is already used by as many as 350 restaurants in New York, LA and San Francisco, has raised $7m in funding and was in the process of raising further funds when Velocity made its approach. Velocity itself integrates with more than 400 restaurants in Europe and say they will introduce the Cover app to at least 50 restaurant locations in London, but the main reason for the acquisition will be to increase its own presence in the US; it’s rumoured the company will relocate their headquarters to New York in the near future.

Velocity have partnered with well-known London restaurants including Hix, Burger & Lobster, Gymkhana and La Chapelle, and have no fewer than 21 Michelin stars under their belt. The company have reported weekly growth of 20% with one third of all business coming from repeat customers. The next phase of their growth includes launching in New York, before rolling out the service to cities across the US, Europe and Asia.

Velocity are promising to improve diner’s experiences by making it easier to book and pay via their smartphones, as well as helping restaurants increase revenues and learn more about their customer’s preferences.

Velocity have been featured in publications such as GQ & the Mail on Sunday and have also done cross promotional work with Uber. They are additionally partnering with charity Action Against Hunger, who say: “Velocity is a powerful way for the mobile generation to make a positive impact on the world, simply by enjoying great restaurants with friends. We are delighted to join forces with them and their customers to provide malnourished children and their families, around the world, with healthier futures.”

The Company is pitched at the higher end of the restaurant market but has ambitions to roll out the service to more and more cities internationally; the founder’s ambition is to turn Velocity into “the leading global hospitality platform” in an industry that is worth several trillion dollars. Founded in 2014 in Mayfair London, the start-up, which sees itself as a hospitality play first and tech start-up second, has already enjoyed strong growth. As well as Tom Glocer, the advisory board includes Aaron Simpson, a co-founder of Quintessentially Group, Val Gooding CBE, who was CEO of BUPA for 12 years, and Tesco board member Gareth Bullock.

Point of Sale (POS) apps are beginning to take hold and are becoming the logical choice for diners who are time poor and looking to maximise the intimacy and privacy of their dining experience. The fact that they can also help restaurants increase revenue per head and capture valuable data makes a strong case for their continued success.

No more quibbling over bills either? Velocity will need to move fast to consolidate this market as the only drawback we can see is the plethora of unwanted choices that too many similar apps saturating the market will force diners to make. Picking the right starter and main is choice enough.


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